Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka: A Sister is searching for her younger brother

A father died seeking justice for his son. While the mother was ill, the sister was searching for her younger brother. The testimonies speak the truth. However, there is no one to provide justice.

The civil war has ended. Currently, there is (supposedly) peace in the country. There is the same talk throughout the country that all the people are living happily and peacefully. But truthfully our Tamil people are not happy and content. Although the armed conflict is over the scars are still there. Who can understand the plight of the people who have lost their fathers, daughters, sons and siblings (and relatives) during the war and have handed over their relatives to the government for protection only to still be waiting for their return 12 years later.

My name is Mahendra Sivagami and I live in Kumakulam, Vavuniya. My father’s name is Chinnaswamy Nallathambi and I have two siblings, one of them is Nallathambi Sasinandan who has disappeared. My other sibling is married. My father searched for my brother and had protested since the beginning at the protest for the disappeared in Vavuniya. But before he was able to rescue/recover my brother he suddenly died. My mother is also old and sick thinking about my brother’s disappearance. My father said he would only die after he brought my brother back home, but he passed away without knowing any information about him.

My parents’ last wish was to see their son and that is why I am still fighting to bring my brother back even though my father is dead. On the 29th of December 2008 at around 7 in the morning, received the news that my brother had been captured, during an army siege, in front of the Siddhivinayagar Temple in Kumakulam, Vavuniya. He was handed over to the police. We filed a case in court and my brother was released as he was not guilty. After the case had finished 5 men, claiming they were from the Criminal Investigation Department, came and kidnapped my brother at the court entrance, right in front of our eyes. We fought as much as we could, but we were unable to save him. My brother hasn’t committed any crimes. I have to somehow get my brother back. My only wish is that we can live together peacefully from now on.

We still keep my brother’s clothes, bicycle and other belongings. We keep his picture in our praying area. He was the one who worked and looked after my parents. We are all waiting for him to come back someday. We have filed complaints at the Red Cross, Presidential Commission, Vavuniya Deputy Superintendent of Police’s office and at many other places but we have not received any information about his whereabouts and situation. When my brother disappeared, he was 25, now he would be 38. I don’t have/know any information about my brother. Even after filing so many complaints, no one has replied.

Since my brother went missing, my father fought, using every method possible, to get him back but he was unable to find him. With that pain, my father would always go to the protest, run by the relatives of the disappeared in Vavuniya, whatever the weather. He fought, but in the end, he passed away on 06.05.2020 without seeing my brother. From then on, I have been struggling to find my brother. We want our younger brother, bring him back by any means. My father was not able to see my brother, my mother must at least see him, rescue him somehow.

What about the situation of the sister who waits in tears with grief in the middle of the street for her brother who disappeared and whose whereabouts are unknown.

Where is the justice for their tears? Even today children who lost parents, wives who lost husbands, husbands who lost wives and parents who lost children and many more are still waiting with tears in hope. Where is justice for them! Will their hopes become shattered?

Are their kidnapped, forcefully disappeared, and lost relatives still there? Are they not? No one knows. But their relatives still wait for them in the street every day. Who will step forward to give them justice? Their scars can never be erased. No one is ready to heal their wounds.

Reported by Balanathan Sathees; Translation by R. Theeran.




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